08 August 2018

The Daily Paint By Number: First Strokes of Taste Of Italy

I've begun painting the PaintWorks piece Taste of Italy. And there is a ton of detail here and with the glorious opportunities thereunto and the advanced techniques I have a chance to employ, I get a 'tyranny of choice' situation. It's impossible to choose where to start.

When I begin with color, though, I know where it's going to start (thanks to a suggestion from Library Gordon), but first, I took he simplest choice. Just do the black areas.

As earlier pointed out, the black areas are picket out by regions of darkest tone. On the diagram chart, they are starkly black; on the panel, with its screened-back printing, it's a very very dark gray. Still easily identifiable; it's the single darkest tone.

Just cover it with black.

I started in the dark areas in the fruit stall.

This took somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes of work, for two reasons: I was getting the feel of a new brush (Richeson's Gray Matters #2 round, which has immediately become indispensable) and the desire to make it a sort of meditation. PBN is great for this.

After two days of work, I nearly have the entirety of the simply-black spaces covered. After blacking-in the RISTORANTE IL VESUVIO lettering, that'll cover it.

This detail shot gives you the idea of what the black areas on the panel looked like before coverage, and after.

After the sign is painted, on to the first applications of color.

06 August 2018

A Glance At "Pencilgraphing", a Vintage How-To-Draw Book From the Thirties

It's evolved that one of the things I'm coming to greatly enjoy as age presents itself to me is the idea of antique and vintage art instuctionals. There have been people who want to make a living teaching the average you'n'me how to make drawing a hobby for at leastas long as there's was a Bill Alexander and even longer.

The art publication in the last missive was printed, as near as I can determine, in the mid 1960s. If that seems and antique, how about one from the Great Depression?

Pencilgraphing is the title of this slim, black hardback book I found at Powell's for a song on Saturday. It was published in 1936, by Pencilgraphing, Inc. of none other than little ol' Wenatchee, Washington, and the tagline is Makes sketching as easy as writing.

The title shows three pencils askew of each other and a chisel-shaped eraser similar to a Pink Pearl.

The title pages is handsomely laid out on the verso with an asymmetrical illustration from the author's own hand, presumably the calibre of the work one might eventually produce with diligent practice of the technique.

Like many artistic techniques, George Elgo's teaches you to reduce things you want to draw into the simple forms. In his specialized lingo, the basic shapes are measuring units. Every method maker wants thier own rubrics, and Elgo was apparently no exception.

The tools are simply enumerated: four erasers, three pencils, and a sheet of 00 sandpaper. The pencils are B, 3B, and 6B. Three of the four erasers are those wedge-shaped cap erasers that we all put on the ends of our pencils in grade school when we wore the standard erasers down, and the fourth is the larger, Pink Pearl-style erasers, which are important for their chisel-shaped ends. The drawing ground was simply specified as typing paper. So, the tools are at least accessible.

After a dead-serious couple of lessons introducing the aspiring Pencilgrapher to the basic thin strokes and how to make shading and modeling (massy) strokes, the catalyst is introduced in the use of the erasers.

The author introducing the proper use of the wedge-shaped cap eraser

The erasers are mostly used in this method as a stump or tortillion is used in graphite and pencil art - for blending graphite and modelling shade. Think of the way Bob Ross uses his palette knife to lay in the shading on the side of mountains and you'll have the basics of the idea. In the case of the large chisel eraser, this is used to 'cut' lines, produce highlights, and for blending out or removing large areas of shade as needed.

The author demonstrates use of the large chisel eraser

The sandpaper comes in when you want to do 'modeling': the 6B is scratched against it to leave graphite which can be picked up from it with the wedge-shaped eraser, which is then used to stroke graphite on the paper in the manner of a paint brush. The sandpaper also cleans off the eraser's surface and keeps the edges of the erasers keen as well as shaping the pencil point.

The combination of specialized, simplified strokes with the intentional use of the eraser as a drawing tool and the consolidation of all activity on the pencil brings everything into one functional concentrated place where you're using the pencil like a combination of pencil and blending tool and this is where the author evidently felt that sketching would be as simple as handwriting.

It has some merit. I can see some aspects of it that can be used in any drawing practice, and the dependence on the eraser as an all-purpose blending tool isn't wholly innovative but was a fresh approach to the aspiring artist coming from a layman's perspective.

05 August 2018

Vintage Walter T. Foster Publication Celebrating The "New" Acrylics


Very old how-to-draw publications find their way to Powell's, as I've shown before. This one here is an unexpected delight, and timely into the bargain.

This is the front cover of what appears to be a periodical, or at least an occasional series, called How and What To Paint. Charmingly cover-priced at the modest amount of thirty cents (at your art store). The publisher, that titan of how-to-do-art books, Walter T. Foster.

This, volume 5, concentrates on three main things: How to draw bears (hence the cover art), mixing colors, and an exciting new thing ... the versatile new plastic paints. What that is, of course, is acrylics; acrylic paint media is pigment emulsified in an acrylic polymer medium, and acrylic polymer is a type of thermoplastic.

When you're painting in acrylic, you're painting with plastic.

The number is undated, though an ade for a brand of mediums and varnishes on the back cover features an oil by Frederic Taubes dated 1964, so it certainly can't have been published before that, quite obviously. Given my recent excursion into the acrylic medium by way of PBN painting, finding this historic jewel is both timely and serendipitous.

The article only covers one spread (less ads) and here is what it looks like:

As exultant the article, penned by managing editor Dixi Hall, was, the charming ads really win. Brushes from Langnickel, and illustration board from Hi-Art, a brand of the National Mat, Card, and Board Co, which exhorts the reader to request free Hi-Art samples, so they may not be left behind when all the other fellow artists rave about it at the next art club meeting.

Truly, we have come so far.

03 August 2018

The Daily Paint By Number: Unboxing Dimensions PaintWorks Taste Of Italy


So, this is a first for this blog ... an 'unboxing' post. Only this isn't any sort of tech toy. This is a Dimensions PaintWorks PBN kit, the most advanced one I've seen yet, a light-year ahead of any I've done so far.

The-clock-she-is-a-ticking, so let's get started.

PaintWorks is a brand that is part of the Simplicity family of art and craft products. It is a large-format, detail-oriented work intended for the ambitious PBN enthusiast who loves detail and is ready for a challenge above and beyond the more pedestrian Royal & Langnickel works.

The above is the box for PaintWorks #91320, Taste of Italy. It is, as can be seen, a charming, idealized Italian village street scene, bursting with color and Old World pulchritude.

This is 20 in by 16 in. Compared to the works I've been doing so far, this is like a large dining table with the extender in. A couple of things of note here; the piece actually credits the designer (an early sign we're working on another level here) and the picture, if one lets the eye linger in the details, seems to be of the completed PBN work itself, not the detailed picture that the project was abstracted on.

Let's empty the box, shall we?

Here it all is: eighteen snap-together paint pots, the project panel, and a chart sheet with painting diagrammed and charts detailing the paint pots and the various color mixes.

Here, the paint pots unsnapped from their circles and laid out in rows. Note the colors are printed on the fronts of the pots, a real boon ... no scrawling them on the cap in Sharpie this time!

There are two ways to specify the colors. The number in front of the parenthesis is the number used on the diagram itself, and the number in parenthesis is a code number to order more if you happen to run out ...

SCREECH! Hold the bus a moment, driver. 

They actually anticipate you running out of paint?

I'd best paint wisely. As the website on the box is no longer operant and the pages at Simplicty.com that list the PaintWorks kits have no obvious route to ordering replacement paint, a side process here will be researching if that is possible at all. This is a big panel. I can get started but I must do so thoughtfully.

Anyway. Onward into the materials.

This table on the chart is a listing of 'pot' colors ... the unmixed paint. Two points of note: 17, black, is noted on the table with a black swatch. This is one intriguing new thing; the solid black color areas on the panel are where you put the black. You'll have noticed them by now in the picture above where I've arrayed the paint pots; look just below at the solid dark colored areas. I'll just be going over those with black.

Paint color #18 is a thing I've not seen before. It is only used in mixes, never appearing unmixed in the painting.

And, this table lists the mixed colors I'll be creating to complete the painting. This is different from the others, if on the other kits I was to mix #1 and #7, for example, it would be noted as "1/7" on the panel. Here, it's simply A.

Also, see the space on the table that has "7 + 15", how there's a gray swatch next to it? Just as there are solid dark areas to be covered with black paint on the panel, your 7/15 mix is to cover gray-filled areas.

Pretty smart and just the thing for those of us who like 'work-y' art. I have a feeling I"m going to love this.

Here is a closeup on the chart. Here's an important thing. The dashed lines indicate areas that call for a rather advanced painting technique for PBN ... drybrushing. This is meant to produce a visual blending effect. More on this just down the posting.

Here's a closeup of one of the thoughtfully-designed paint pots. They open and close air-tight but easily, and the wide base makes it very stable.

And here's the instructions on drybrushing. You drybrush along the boundaries that are dotted lines to give the appearance of a gradated blend, and a more sophisticated finish than your more average PBN work. And the way this is taught, it instantly occurred to me that this is a portable, and also rather sophisticated skill. This kit is teaching a fairly advanced technique in the context! Exciting, really.

In the way that I used marker in the last work to make it sort of a multimedia thing, the instructions indicate detailing with marker or pen may be called for.

Withal, this looks like a project that will teach as well as entertain in the doing. I can't start it immediately but very soon, and I can't really wait to get started ... though I'll have to!

Check in here for the painters progress.

The Daily Paint By Number: 50's Diner, Completed

So, I glide-pathed gracefully into the end of Royal & Langnickel's PAL28-3T: 50's Diner. Of the various projects I've done since PBN has re-introduced itself to me, and me, it, this has been by far the most fun and satisfying.

Whoever designed the kit knew just what to leave out and put it. The rendering of the illustration onto PBN abstract was immaculate, as far as I'm concerned.

As I've mentioned under other aegis, the plan was to work from the outside in. That meant sky, ground, foliage, cars, building, sign. It worked out very well in this one. The above picture was the first fillins to the building, which was, by then, the only part of the picture remaining un-painted. The long lines and straight spaces contrasted interestingly with he ripply reflections in the windows.

Filling in the rest o the windows and getting the dark areas in the building gave it solidity and dimension and really started to make the painting pop.

The completion of the sign atop the diner was the final pin that the logic of the lighting pivoted on. The bright yellow of the neon in the word DINER gave the yellow areas of reflected light on the cars and the building's side its internal sense. It was also terribly much fun to do.

There area  couple of small things that actually makes this, by definition, multi media. The black print on the sign and the numbers on the license plate have issues; the plate gets covered up by the light blue and the part of the sign with the writing on it is unpainted (that's the panel showing through) and the writing is in the same screened-back blue that the rest of the painting's marks are. Fine line Sharpie to the rescue! So, I can truthfully say that this is a work in acrylic paint and marker. Multi-media artist, me, now!

And we'll put this one on the wall near the others. It should be a centerpiece, really.

Next up, we have an uncommon thing for this blog ... an unboxing! And it all has to do with the next project.